tv Your Business MSNBC May 13, 2012 7:30am-8:00am EDT
small businesses are revitalizing the economy and american express open is here to help. that's why we are proud to present "your business" on msnbc. hi there, everyone, i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business." where we give you tips and advice to help your business grow. how does a small business stan out from its competition and get customers to keep coming back? well, you may want to try adding a little extra helping of hospitality. it's a tool that's important not just for restaurants and hotels but for any service-oriented business. because being likable can make
you bankable. ♪ >> did you just put that on the menu. >> did i, yesterday. >> did you sell any yet? >> we sold about ten yesterday. >> you sold ten on day one. >> danny meyer, owner of the union square hospitality group has been running some of new york city's most successful restaurant for more than two decades. >> if i had to pick between being the best or the favorite, i'd go for the favorite. >> there are probably places out there that have better technical service than we do but we believe it's the whole experience. >> this is danny's managing partner for the blue smoke restaurant. >> i don't believe most of what we do is unique to restaurants. whether you're a consult and or retail store or a plumber, you should be able to treat your customers in a certain way. >> they believe their extra emphasis on hospitality
distinguishes their restaurants and they say it pays off. >> it pays off hugely to offer great hospitality. as a matter of fact, if you look at the zagat survey, every single one of our restaurants in a city of 26,000 restaurants is among the top 50 of new york's favorite restaurants. i didn't say new york's best restaurants. >> what's their secret? how do they know what their customers are really thinking? >> great question. i'm looking at the guest's eyes. and if the guests are looking at each other, we're doing a great job. if the guests are looking around, we're not doing a great job. if the food is taking too long or someone's glass of water is empty, they're going to look around. so that's the first thing we look at. usually from that, we get clues as to what's wrong. we just sometimes will engage that guest and say, good afternoon. and while we're saying good afternoon it gives us an opportunity to see what's up.
>> seeing what's up, mark says, actually starts before the guests are even seated. >> we actually spend a lot of time on what we call reading table or reading the guest. when you come in you have a certain look on our face. it's our job in a split second to figure out what kind of mood you're in. if you look like you're with a bunch of friends we might amp up our energy. if you seem to be tense or you seem to be nervous because maybe you're here for a job interview or something like that with a lunch meeting, we might sort of calm our voice down a little bit. >> with all the attention they give to their customers' comfort, it might be surprising to learn that the customer is not their number one priority. >> put your customer second, absolutely. if you really want to have great customer satisfaction, your customers will never be any happier than the people who are working in your company. >> we believe that that relationship between the management and the staff is the most important relationship.
and from there, our guests will necessarily be taken care of. >> one of the toughest tests of hospitality comes when someone on the straun team makes a mistake. it can take team work to fix it. >> we really ask our teammates to be incredibly creative and imaginative in saying i made the mistake, i'm sorry, how can we end up in a better spot than if we hadn't made it in the first place. >> danny calls this writing the last chapter. you can't unspill a glass of wine but you can always do something to make amends and this way you can write the last chapter. >> you need to first ask the question, what can i do to make this right? >> carrie matthews, manager at blue smoke says there's no single formula for making it right. >> sometimes someone may no longer be hungry. an extra order of french fries is not going to do the trick. it's not hospitality to give somebody something to placate them. you want to really phone out what it is that's going to
genuinely make them happy and maybe they're in a rush and you need to get them out of here as quickly as possible. >> it's critically important that we embrace mistakes that we make and use them as opportunities to end up in a better spot. >> we did have a situation the other night where the host accidentally crossed their name off. so that's a difficult situation to turn around. >> i got this guy. and he was -- i think he was even swearing as carrie was apologizing to the table. i approached them to guide them through the menu, he was still just so angry and it takes a lot to keep your calm and to keep helping this person that just hates you. and just keep being there for them and keep trying to correct it. >> i think the key is really expressing to people how sorry you are and that you made a mistake and owning up to it. >> danny and mark are quick to
distinguish this kind of hospitality from what many call customer service. >> i think they're using the word in the wrong way. what service means is that a straun or any type of did the things they were supposed to do. when they talk about hospitality, what they're talking about is how did the provider of that service make the recipient feel? and they're completely different things. >> this focus on making people feel good, they say, is key to overcoming the unexpected challenges any business faces every day. >> try to do what it takes to make sure that at the end of the day, whatever somebody came into our restaurant with, they leave feeling slightly better than when they came in. i think if we can do that, our restaurants will have served their purpose. the customer service lessons from the hospitality industry can easily translate to thousands of small business operations. let's turn to this week's board of directors, rod kurtz is the executive editor of huffington post small business and david
scott is a marketing strategist, although of the book "the new rules of marketing and pr." >> great to see you. i'm hungry after that. let's go to lunch after this. >> you have coffee until then. >> there are so many things from this piece i loved. one of them was the idea of no matter how mad the customer is, make them happy. in my own company, customers call us up and they are mad at something that is not even our fault. how do you get your employees to feel as excited about making a customer happy as you do as the owner? >> it's just like a master class in hospitality. it was fantastic. and the challenge is to get that ownership with the people. and make them feel as though they're part of it as well. and they have a vested interest in it as well. of course you could maybe compensate them somehow but make them feel like it's part of their business. you know, you think about something like a restaurant.
i travel a lot. an airplane flight. it's an experience. and the challenge is, you no he, i can pick any airline to get me from "a" to "b" but it's the experience of six hours in a metal tube that's important. >> i think you want to -- you don't want to have a staff of employees, you want a staff of entrepreneurs, you want to empower them. whether you give them the flexibility to comp a drink or whatever it may be. they'll be happy in their job and as a result you'll have a better team as a whole. this gets back to every business is a service business. the restaurant business fundamentally is. you're never going to bring customers back because of price, it's always going to be service. >> the best line in this whole thing, put your customer second. >> what a crazy notion. >> it was interesting. surprising that it would come out that way. >> it's surprising but when you talk about giving people ownership, giving people involved, being entrepreneurs, it's really if you were empow
empowering people, you care so much about their employees they pass that down to their customers. >> it helps with so many things, retention and building a great team that you can replicate, this guy owns a number of restaurants and it's easy to replicate that model in different locations when you have that loyalty. >> one of the things i think people really want, an employee, is to be trusted. in particular where i see that falling down is where the employer says you're not allowed to use facebook or be on twitter during work. what do you mean, you don't trust me? as soon as you say i trust you to do the right thing, magically the work becomes better and they have a vested ownership. it's now a we, not us versus them. >> hospitality and service is what you're supposed to do. hospitality is bigger than that. getting them happier when they leave than when they come in. >> this was an interesting concept. sometimes when i go to restaurants i'm alone, i'm on a business trip, i want to get in and out quickly.
i don't want the experience and all the flowery stuff. if i'm with my family that's great but when i'm on my own, i bring my newspaper. get me the food, get me out of he here. and a restaurant that recognizes that, what great hospitality. although it might not be in the rule book. >> the key to that, listening. >> and watching. thanks, guys. in you want exposure for your small business sometimes you need to grab the spotlight for yourself. here now are five simple ways you can't become a household name courtesy of ink.com. one, self-publish a book. publishing an ebook can submit your expertise and provide 3450edia opportunities. two, create your own video series. keep videos short, grab viewers in the first five seconds and don't cover more than three key messages. three, start a newsletter or magazine. check out digital solutions like
zinio and issue to produce your publications. four, build a following with blogs. some are free and some cost a monthly fee. whatever you choose, make sure all posts are equipped for sharing through facebook, twitter, linked in and google plus. number five, contribute to community forums. make a point to volunteer with organizations and speak at conferences and events within your field. if your product is priced higher than similar items will it ever sell? our guest says getting the sale isn't about money, rather customers want the product they feel confident is the right one. international sales training expert grant cardone is founder and ceo of three businesses and he's also a best-selling author of "sell or be sold" how to get your way in business and in life. great to see you. >> great to see you. >> we'll concentrate on business and later i'll concentrate on life and getting my way.
>> okay. >> if i have a problem and i want to put a high price tag on it, you say that's okay. i don't necessarily have to get into a price war. i have to give it a wow experience. what does that mean? >> it's a major mistake made by small entrepreneurs, business owners to think they have to underprice their product to move it to the marketplace. sometimes a lower price actually means no value to a consumer and especially since this major contraction that we went through. the biggest single mistake i've seen businesses make is immediately try to lower their price. look, there can only be one lowest cost provider in any market for any product. and it's a very, very precarious tight rope to walk. >> what's the wow experience? how do you give a wow experience for a beautiful china, piece of china? >> i don't know if i can show this. this is a, you know, delivering a wow experience. people are paying -- >> the iphone. >> they banked $98 billion in cash after all their expenses by selling a phone people want at a
time when people don't have money. >> yes. >> this is a great example. if i take this coffee cup, to one person it's worth a quarter, to another person it's worth two dollars. people don't buy price or products. >> you have to explain to them you're solving an issue. >> why do you want a cup today? why did you come to my company today? why didn't you come yesterday, three weeks ago, three months ago. >> i broke all my china and i have a party tomorrow. price doesn't matter. you're solving a problem. >> that moves into your next point of becoming the expert. suddenly when you're the expert they're asking you questions and you're giving the answers that sell your product. >> you want to become a celebrity about your product. if you're selling cups, phones, whatever. you want to become the authority, the expert, the go-to guy. when i think coffee cups, i think i have to do it. like one of my companies, our goal is to get me as the -- the
number one authority in sales training. so that when a client thinks sales training they think me. if i'm the top thought of person by blogging, social mediums, facebook, twitter, writing articles, doing things like this, price will not matter. >> right. >> you can look at celebrities in the tv world, they command a higher price because they get viewership, people believe them, they have credibility. >> also if people feel like they are getting value. >> right. >> you're not necessarily going for lowest price. you're going for the highest value mpl that's right. these are completely different conversations. one's price, one is value. when value exceeds price, price is no longer the issue. >> value comes from third party endorsements? >> no part. >> could be referrals, third parties, other people saying things. i saw an article. look, i believe in who you are and what you're doing. maybe you're giving money to a charity. i don't care what i'm paying.
here's the money, i want to support you. >> bundling gives value. >> bundling has been used for hundreds of years. it's a way to not compete on price so that i'm not selling just the coffee cup. i'm putting these two packages together. not everybody wants to be at the 99 cents store. some people want to actually -- they'd rather buy two things than buy one thing. and one other short tip is that second money from a customer is the easiest money you can ever get. once they release and make a decision, because that's the problem. price is not -- should never be considered the problem. it's can i even make a decision? and during periods of economic contraction, people get so uncertain in their ability to make decisions, they put their emphasis on price but the truth is that i not sure about themselves. how do i add value? not give them a dollar's worth of value but maybe charge them
$20 and solve their problem. >> this is great advice, not only for times of economic crisis but all the time. >> money is survival. >> all right. thank you so much, grant, really appreciate it. if they ask richard branson that question he'd probably say take a risk. the flamboyant head of businesses will show us how to learn from the pros. you do a lot of kayakingno. whoooa i'm in a river. what are some good kayaking words? like...rapids? look, i'm going through the rapids.
ok. i'll take it. new offers in new places so you can try new things. sync your american express card with facebook, foursquare, and twitter to find savings. that's the membership effect of american express. as you all know, every once in a while we have a learning from the pros segment where we interview a very successful entrepreneur and this week we enlisted rod kurtz to help us out with it. >> the consummate entrepreneur, sir richard branson. i've been given a privilege to get to know him. i was down at the virgin america launch recently. i said every entrepreneur looks up to you, what's your advice to them? ♪ little thing that you do
>> little things matter. and what makes for a great restaurant is the owner being there, you know, often cooking in that restaurant and getting every single little detail right. and that's where, you know, private-owned restaurants where the chef is there, just stands completely apart from a chain of restaurants. so the challenge for a small airline like virgin, as we got birg, bigger, is to run it like a small restaurant. every time i'm on a flight, all our people are on the flight, we have our notebooks in our back pocket. we're talking to the staff, talking to the passengers. we're taking notes. and we're making sure that there's just no little detail that's left unturned.
♪ >> at virgin, you know, we've been able to build a few hundred companies. if i tried to do everything myself we would have just had one company. if we had just that one company since it was music shops we would have been bankrupt today because obviously the industry's moved on. surround yourself with great people, look for the best in those people. ♪ i just got to get a message to you ♪ >> ten different people will have a great idea. we launched something very similar to the ipad at the same time that apple launched it. they got their marketing right, you know, depart. they got their design right, we didn't. they won. there's no point in come up with a great idea, unless everybody knows about it. what you've got to try to do is get yourself on the front pages of the newspapers, even if it means making a fool of yourself. trying to make people smile at the same time rather than footnote in the back of the newspapers. free advertising is an awful lot
cheaper than full-page ads. i have a slogan called screw it, just do it. if you have, if you're thrown in the deep end, if you're thrown into a swimming pool, as long as you've got your parents watching you, the chances are, you'll end up swimming. and the best way of link to run a business, is just to try it by getting out there and trying things, you will just through struggling and trying, become an entrepreneur. and i think that applies to most people. i think if they fall flat on their face, they'll try it again and next time round be more successful. time to answer some of your business questions. rod and davis are with us. an email writes i had an investor to provide capital for me to open a casual restaurant. after signing the purchase agreement, the investor withdrew his financial support. today, owners of other restaurants in town don't want
to partner with me. any suggestions on how to find or what to offer the next prospective investor fantastic question. because this happens all the time. >> i think what investors are looking for is to mitigate the risk. they're happy to give money, if they see it won't be too risky for them. one suggestion would be to build a fan base before you look for money if she wants to start a restaurant, why not build a fan base of clients she has for her catering business and get people to vouch for her. maybe she has a blog or twitter feed where people are connecting with her. she can say look i have done all of these catering jobs, i have all of these happy customers. now i want to take the next step and open a restaurant. >> we're seeing more restaurants get their start as food trucks and once they've established that loyal following, go into a
brick-and-morter location. more generally i think we are hearing from a lot of businesses that it's getting tougher to get a loan to get some outside investment. one thing she didn't mention is community banks or credit unions, which weren't swept up in a lot of the financial mess and are lending to small businesses at a higher rate. so something to consider for everyone out there. >> the kick-starter kind of crowd-sourcing option. it's used frequently by musicians and filmmakers. amanda palmer raced 600,000 in eight days for her indy record. >> we did a story in new york about a restaurant that gave away comfort dollars, you buy $500, you know, give me $500, i'll give you $600 worth of food when it opens. >> like entrepreneurs. >> and people are invested in coming and they'll bring their friends. >> give me $1,000, i'll throw a dinner party for you and use that money at the restaurant. let's move on.
this is about the geography of running a business. >> how do you build community and build a successful business, while living in multiple locations? >> i think it's easier than ever. i mean social media, we were talking about, you can be anywhere, you can run a company anywhere and you can build that community online. i have a good friend who runs a sunglasses company, its founding mission is on travel. he's traveling all over the globe and that's part of the journey, he brings his customers, his fans with him. i think that can extend to almost any business. >> that's what i do. i give speeches all over the world. i've got little communities in these cities that i go to. next week i'm in london and i'll meet people i know there. because i can connect with them on social media, quitter, facebook. >> we were chatting on twitter this morning. >> i said looking forward to being on your business this morning. >> there's no reason why she couldn't just have an in-person event when she's at a particular place.
as you just said. and keep touch with them over social media. >> i think it's an advantage that she is traveling a lot. if you're isolated in one place it's hard to reach. but if you're -- >> and it gives a reason for a meeting, right? i'm going to be in london, let's meet up. >> i think people who have only one location sometimes are at a disadvantage because people believe that it always has to be in person. let's have lunch, let's have lunch or whatever it might be. say, i live 6,000 miles away, let's just connect on twitter. this is a question about right time to launch your business. >> is it crazy to launch a start-up in these economic times? >> i mean i'm going to answer first, no, no. but you guys say why? i'm assuming you agree with me. >> i get this question all the time, the best time to start a business is always right now. if you have a great idea. we were talking about kickstarter and creative ways to get investment even in a tough climate. you've got to have a good idea.
you've got to refine your idea and yes, it's a great time. >> and at the same time if it's a tough economy, some of the marginal players are going to go out of business, and now you've got more potential market for yourself, particularly if the market starts to pick up. it's a fantastic time to start a business. whenever we're in a recession or a slow time, great time to start a business. >> and things are cheaper, right? >> you can get employees maybe easier to find them. office space, whatever you're looking for. >> historically, if you look at the trends, the number of start-ups during and after recession actually goes up. sometimes people are out of work and they say i'm going to be out there and be my own boss. when everyone else is hunkering down, that's the best time to go on the offense. >> i think your first point is the most important point, which is if you have a good idea. so really, the idea, the economy being strong, the economy being weak is almost irrelevant to is this a good time to start a
business, don't you think? >> everybody has good ideas. you walk to everybody on the street, everybody's got a good idea. but it's the execution that matters. and somebody who executes is the one that's going to succeed. if you never execute. you will never succeed. now is the right time. >> okay. well great. >> get out there and do it. thanks so much, you guys for all of your help, very inciteful. if any of you out there have a question for our experts, all you have to do is go to our website, the address is openforum.com/yourbusiness, once you get there, just hit the ask the show link to submit a question for our panel. the website is openform.com/yourbusiness. or email us your questions and your comments, the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. rod and david had some really helpful advice about how to improve your business. now let's get some great ideas from small business owners like
you. >> my advice is to embrace technology and advancements, there's so much social forums, blogs, where other businesses share their feedback, advice, success stories. >> for companies in the service industry is don't be afraid to put somebody out there to give educational seminars. the seminars are a great way of attracting people, educating them about your business and what your services are. and getting a greater exposure out there. >> don't be afraid to share what you're doing, what your ideas are, with other entrepreneurs. some of the best support that i've gotten and some of the best advice i've gotten has been from other entrepreneurs who are you know, starting out or have a few years of experience. >> having trouble staying organized? then check out our website of the week.
highrisehq.com aims to get your work life in order. it will save personal notes and email conversations with contacts. you can create pages for your current projects and link projects, tasks and notes to them. to stay on top of all of your leads and deals. to learn more about today's show, just click on our website, it's openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find web-sclusish content to help your business grow. and don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. we love getting your feedback. next week, we visit with an entrepreneur who has a do it yourself approach to market research. we'll learn how this former ebay executive tapped what she 11ed at the internet giant when she started her own company, until then, i'm jj ramberg, we make your business our business.
you know, those farmers, those foragers, those fishermen.... for me, it's really about building this extraordinary community. american express is passionate about the same thing. they're one of those partners that i would really rely on whether it's finding new customers, or, a new location for my next restaurant. when we all come together, my restaurants, my partners, and the community amazing things happen. to me, that's the membership effect. good morning from new york, happy mother's day, i'm chris hayes, local officials in yemen say u.s. drone strikes killed 11 al qaeda militants yesterday.